By Dr. John A. Temple / guest columnist
The Meridian Star
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” —Colossians3:23-25
Frequently, I am asked if something in particular is a sin. They want to know what the Bible says.
Usually, they want permission. When looking at scripture on a particular subject, we look for a, “thou shalt not.” If none is specifically found on the subject in question, we assume, “thou shalt.” With this mindset, we search for loopholes in the scripture that we might “get by.”
The problem is that not everything is specifically mentioned in scripture. Amish are concerned about driving cars. Some are concerned about what we cannot eat. Some wish to call Saturday instead of Sunday holy. Some worship with musical instruments, others without. The issues continue forever.
There are two ways I come to an opinion about the question of something right or wrong:
1. I apply biblical principles. In Romans 14, there is a debate about the eating of pork. I must admit, being from the south, we eat pork regularly. In that scripture, it states that for some, it is alright, and, for others, it is not. Then in verse 23 is a principle to apply: “For whatsoever is not of faith is a sin.” In other words, if I doubt God approves I should refrain.
A second scripture used is in James 4:17, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin. If the Holy Spirit is encouraging me to offer some act of service or benevolence and I refuse, I am rebelling against God’s leadership.
The sum total of these two scriptures is that life is to be lived by faith or trust in God. Nothing should happen in our life that does not source itself in pleasing Him.
2. I apply common sense. Everything that is considered sinful is also harmful. The following steps are seen in every sin:
a. Everything sinful begins through our own personal choice.
b. Everything sinful becomes habitual.
c. Everything sinful becomes controlling.
d. Everything sinful becomes destructive.
If I didn’t know any scripture at all but wanted to avoid the pain of mistakes, I would continue to refrain from any activity that fit the above characteristics of sin.
When I was young, my mother would say, “Don’t stick anything in the electric outlet.” In saying that, she was not trying to be mean or restrictive. She was trying to express her love for me in warning me that some things hurt. When I trusted her and obeyed her, I didn’t get hurt. When I ignored her advice, I usually found the shock of my life.
The next time you don’t know if something is right or wrong, do two things. Ask yourself what actions would indicate you are focused and trusting in God. Then, check and see if what you plan to do is habitual, controlling, and destructive in other’s life. If someone else has been hurt by that action, find something else to do.